Group Projects

Networked Society

Lauren Liebovich | Rick Paturzo | Harelda Pereda | Marco Sepulveda

This section analyzes how accessible information technology is within the everyday framework of society and to what extent society has grabbed on to efforts to mainstream ICTs. Based on our findings, we attempt to determine approximately how ready Brazil and Argentina are to contribute in the networked world.

Accessibility and usage of cell phones, public access to the internet at locutorios and cyber-cafes, ICTs in the workplace, home and schools are widely increasing in Argentina and Brazil. That is an indication of the accessibility of information technology within the society of these emerging countries. Readiness relies not only upon the ability to easily access ICTs, but also how ready the community is to integrate it into their lives. While much progress has been made to improve accessibility of ICTs in urban areas, the spread to more rural regions still hinders a large portion of the countries' population from participating in the networked world. In urban areas, such as Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro, and Sao Paulo, great advancements have been made to make ICTs a prevalent part of the community.

Cellular phone usage and the majority of the service providers already with a network in place for internet ready phones could lead to greater mobile Internet access. Public access to the Internet is popular at the locutorios and cyber cafes. In Argentina, Locutorios now permeate the streets; it is not uncommon to find two, sometimes three, per block due to the convenience to go to these Internet locations to connect. Besides being convenient, they are very affordable, costing in average $.50 cents of a peso, which translates to less than US$.20 per hour. In Brazil, Internet café's are common but not as popular as the Locutorios in Argentina. Hotspots are slowly becoming more popular in Brazil, mainly in areas of high business concentration or touristy places.

Use of technology at home, schools, and workplace in both Argentina and Brazil have become more common year after year. Access to the Internet from home is still low with only about 20% of households connecting; until recently only the wealthy could afford to own computers and have internet access. However, we are starting to see a shift in degrees of users in these emerging countries. Furthermore, access to technology in schools runs parallel to the community which surrounds it. Also, the governmental programs promoting ICTs, are bringing technology to education such as connecting all schools and providing e-mail access to all the students. With regards to internet access at the workplace, a survey of 1,260 medium and large Brazilian companies shows that 70 percent of their employees have access to computers and 46 percent to the Internet.

With inexpensive cell phone options, a multitude of Locutorios, internet cafes, and WiFi connections making its way into city life, and at home internet use rising, metropolitan ICT access is heading in the right direction. Although both countries have the means to be at a high level of readiness, it won't be until Brazil and Argentina successfully address major issues (such as increase the use of ICTs by low income and underprivileged groups), that they will be completely emerged in the networked world.